William Thompson was tired. Tired of renting a small, over-priced apartment in the city. Tired of working for a glossy magazine that pretended to care, when all that really mattered was profits. So when his favourite aunt sadly passed away, leaving him her big old house in her will, he eagerly moved his family from the fast-paced city centre to the bohemian outskirts of Newcrest.
His aunt Eleanor had converted the basement into two small apartments, which she had rented out to lodgers to supplement her income. William toyed with the idea of doing the same, he knew there was a housing crisis and it seemed like the right thing to do. The extra money had allowed his aunt to maintain the house, and he found it in perfect condition. Almost too perfect. Museum-like. Towards the end of her life, Eleanor had become so frail that she felt that she needed the support of a care home. She had moved out, and so had her lodgers, and the house was left in the care of the gardener and daily housekeeping service. So it had the slightly too tidy atmosphere of a show home.
Moving in day was cluttered but fun. William’s wife, Willow, was as keen to move out of the cramped apartment and into the spacious house as he was. And the children, enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies of the old house.
Some curious neighbours arrived to welcome them to the area. One lady also worked for a publishing company, but she reminded William too much of his old colleagues. He courteously introduced her to his wife and slipped away to chat with an charming artist called Amalie, who talked vividly of old French novels, and had flecks of paint on the inside of her wrist. William encouraged her to investigate his aunt’s bookcase and Amalie eagerly borrowed a well-thumbed novel by Hugo. She had been forced to abandon her books, she told him sadly. William didn’t ask why.
The first night in the old-new house was troubled. Gemma was woken by strange noises and rushed to her brother’s room screaming about a monster under the bed! Not content with waking Karl, she ran to her parent’s room to tell them about the strange creature too!
‘It’s alright,’ Karl called from the hallway, ‘I’ll handle this one.’
William and Willow snuggled thankfully down into their feather pillows. It was just the excitement of the move, and sleeping in a strange new room, they assured each other in the dark.
But Karl knew that telling Gemma it was all in her imagination wasn’t going to work. Big brothers were much more capable of dealing with bed monsters than grown-ups were. Armed with a bottle of water used for spraying house plants, he tiptoed into Gemma’s room.
‘Is it still here?’ he whispered to his younger sister, who was now giggling at her brother’s antics.
She nodded, her wide eyes darting to the space beneath the bed.
Karl nodded thoughtfully for a moment. Then he whispered, ‘Does it have a name?’
‘I don’t know,’ Gemma whispered back, ‘I haven’t asked it yet.’
‘Then we should give it one,’ Karl said decisively, ‘what does it look like?’
‘It’s sort of smokey…’ Gemma replied thoughtfully, ‘… and it has tentacles.’
‘Then I shall call it Dave.’
Gemma giggled, ‘Dave?! Dave is a silly name for a monster!’
‘Exactly!’ Karl said triumphantly, ‘And how can a monster with a silly name like Dave possibly be scary? Now hop back into bed.’
After a moment’s hesitation and a concerned glance, Gemma vaulted into her bed before Dave could tickle her ankles with his tentacles.
‘Now listen up, Dave!’ Karl puffed himself up and raised his voice to the shadows, ‘I have a bottle of monster repellent here and I’m not afraid to use it! I know you are a night-time animal, and you just want someone to play with. But my sister is a day-time monster, and she has school tomorrow so please stop waking her up.’
And he sprayed the floorboards for good measure. ‘I think he’s gone,’ he whispered to his little sister.
‘He’s gone,’ Gemma confirmed, yawning into her pillow. She was already fast asleep again before Karl had slipped out of the room.
Stevenson Manor is on the Gallery if you would like it.
I think I forgot to upload the family because I’m so super-smart and good at remembering things, but I’ll try and do that soon. 😄